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The Catholic Defender: Holy Priest-Martyr Josaphat

Dr. Gregory and I while in Arizona had the opportunity to go to Mass to a Byzintine Rite Church, very beautiful and Traditional.

From his early years, his parents and educators encouraged his natural inclination for the faith. St. Josephat studied church slavonic, and apprenticed under a merchant.

During this time he encountered both Latin rite and Eastern rite Catholics.

At the age of ~24, he entered an Orthodox monastery, where he took on the name Josaphat. In the coming years he was raised to the level of Bishop. St. Josaphat worked to bring his parishes in union with Rome.

However, there were many priests and laymen under his jurisdiction that were upset by these advancements towards unity. Particularly when it came to dividing the churches and land between the uniate churches and those remaining Orthodox.

There is a recorded tradition that St. Jospahat knew he would be killed for the sake of the unity of Rome. He spoke to the faithful, saying he was aware that the people wanted to kill him, and set ambushes for him. Then he reminded the faithful that he was their shepherd, and that he would gladly lay down his life for them, his sheep.

We celebrate Josaphat Kunsevych, an Eastern Bishop and martyr, on November 12th, which commemorates his deathday and day of canonization (in 1867). The BadgerDad and I married on this feast day, to honour this martyr who died for Christ and the goal of Christian unity.

So what do we know about this saint? Well, first of all, St. Josaphat was born in what is now western Ukraine (then Poland), around the year 1580. His Orthodox parents named him John Kuntsevych. The 16th century saw a rise in anti-Catholic sentiments in many Slavic countries. It was in these difficult socio-political-theological times that St. Josaphat grew up.

On November 12th of 1623, a dissenting priest was removed from St. Josaphat’s residence. Some records suggest that St. Josaphat called for the arrest of that priest based on his behaviour at the time. Whatever the case, the priest went out and gathered a mob together. These men returned to the residence and shot and then beheaded St. Josaphat.

The mob then dumped St. Josephat’s body into the river. Even so, the saint’s body was found, incorruptible, five years later.

When St. Josaphat was martyred, his last words were prayers for the people who had come to kill him. God answered these prayers, as one of the rival Orthodox bishops later converted to Catholicism.

I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. 1 Corinthians 10

You appeared as a radiant light, O priest-martyr Josaphat. Like the Good Shephard, you lay your life down for your sheep.

After your death by those who loved division, you entered the holy of holies to dwell with the bodiless powers.

Therefore we pray you, O long suffering saint, beg Christ, the prince of shepherds to number us among the sheep at His right hand. And to save our souls. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Now and forever and ever, amen.

Enlightened in childhood by a flame from the crucified Christ, you resembled the angels in your life as a monk. As a bishop you lived in godliness. In your life you preached unity. And with your martyrs blood you calmed hearts inflamed by love for dispute.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.”d

So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.

When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.

Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.

This was now the third timeh Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”* He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Amen, amen, I say to you,j when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

You received from Christ, the crown. And so, remember us as we cry to you: Rejoice!

O unshakeable pillar of unity. Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His venerable ones

Verse: What shall I give to the Lord for all that He has given to me?

Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain.

He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years

and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time.

Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark* on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revlation 10:1-4


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